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Communications of the ACM


Do We Really Need Computational Thinking?

cosmic spiral, illustration

Credit: Vallia

I confess upfront, the title of this Viewpoint is meant to attract readers' attention. As a computer scientist, I am convinced we need the concept of computational thinking, interpreted as "being able to think like a computer scientist and being able to apply this competence to every field of human endeavor."

The focus of this Viewpoint is to discuss to what extent we need the expression "computational thinking" (CT). The term was already known through the work of Seymour Papert,13 many computational scientists,5 and a recent paper15 clarifies both its historical development and intellectual roots. After the widely cited Communications Viewpoint by Jeannette Wing,19 and thanks to her role at NSF,6 an extensive discussion opened with hundreds of subsequent papers dissecting the expression. There is not yet a commonly agreed definition of CT—what I consider in this Viewpoint is whether we really need a definition and for which goal.


Robert Gotwals

So, where does the discipline and practice of computational science fall in all of this? Is this what is being considered "informatics" in this article?

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